I wish forgiveness was an easy accomplishment, don’t you?
When I look back to some of the most painful experiences of my life, I feel the depth and the weight of my scars...the tearful nights, the questioning of why, and the anger that came when the people closest to me brought disappointment. But in the midst of my lowest moments, I’ve witnessed the power of healing, reconciliation, and restoration. As humans, we can’t appreciate one without the other––pain versus healing, disappointment versus restoration, brokenness versus reconciliation. It’s in the middle of these extremes that we experience growth that builds the core of who we are and who we will become.
As a child, divorce became a painful reality for me. My dreams of having both of my parents in the household were crushed. It brought overwhelming waves of confusion, doubt, and cynicism. It would have been so easy to allow the hurt to turn into bitterness and hate.
But guess what…
It wouldn’t have solved anything.
When we allow our pain to turn into hate, we become part of the problem––not the solution.
Forgiveness is easier said than done because our pain is real. We don’t want to release it from our grip because we want to validate our scars and maintain a sense of control in the situation. But, friend, let down your guard with me for just a second. If we remove the masks we hide our wounds behind and face our pain with honesty, we can see there’s a new perspective to embrace.
People are people.
Dissect this a bit further with me...
People are humans.
A bit further…
People are imperfect beings.
One more step…
People are perfectly imperfect beings with the same brokenness, the same insecurities, and the same fears as ourselves.
We have more in common with one another than we think. Altogether, we all face challenges and struggles. We all are sons or daughters to someone. We all fall in love and do our best to navigate life transitions.
People are people. Even the ones who have hurt us. They feel, they hurt, they grieve, too. And something else… Hurt people hurt people.
We must choose to see the person apart from the pain they’ve inflicted.
When I think of the people who have hurt me deeply, I put myself in their shoes for a moment. I try my best to empathize with their upbringing, their culture, and their point-of-view. I try to see them as living, breathing people—not just sources of pain. Giving into empathy helps us to seek mutual understanding and compassion with even our greatest enemies. All of us are imperfect and broken in need of endless grace and mercy. If we allow our cynicism from past wounds to fester, it will build barriers between ourselves and the people around us. But here’s the truth: it’s never a waste of time to see the best in people. In fact, when we choose to seek the best in people, we are choosing to value the person’s life. Everyone has a different way of thinking, and we must come to a place where we can still respect people who have views foreign from our own. Many times throughout Scripture, we read that Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the masses (Mark 6:34). It’s by His love and His compassion for us that we can have the opportunity to show the same love and compassion towards those around us.
Maybe you value loyalty, but the person who hurt you doesn’t share that same characteristic. There's conflict—and suddenly—bridges are burned. Once we recognize the difference in values, we can still show respect, wish the person well and move on with our own lives. In recognizing differences and not pointlessly insisting that others be like us, we can then allow ourselves to let go and forgive––not because they deserve it, but because our lives are more valuable than the toxicity of bitterness.
Ladies, it’s time to break out of the walls we’ve built around our pain and choose to forgive freely. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s worth it to move on and set yourself free from the pain of the past. It’s even more worth it to wish someone well––particularly someone who has hurt us. One day, we’ll look back at the tears we cried, and we will realize the pain was a bridge into our next season. And as time goes on, we’ll see that our best days are surely ahead of us.
And never ever forget: you are so strong. You truly are. Sometimes you can’t realize the magnitude of your strength until you’ve been through the fire.
Victoria Bardega is a content creator based out of central Florida who is passionate about building community. She finished her bachelor of science in journalism/public relations at Southeastern University and works in strategic marketing with over 100+ churches in the United States. When she's not photographing a love story or writing lifestyle pieces, she's filling up the pages of her passport and aggressively seeking laugh lines.